More Protesters Reportedly Shot in Sichuan
Following yesterday’s reported shooting of Tibetan protesters in Drango, Kardze, Sichuan, reports have come in today of another shooting in a nearby town in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture as protests escalate in the region. RFA reports:
Chinese authorities shot dead as many as five Tibetans and seriously wounded 40 others on Tuesday in the second day of bloodshed as protests escalated in the troubled Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture in Sichuan province, local sources said.
A crackdown has been launched in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county where the incident occurred, with about 40 protesters arrested and all public movements limited, the sources said.
“A kind of martial law has been imposed,” a local resident, calling himself Ganta, told RFA.
“Tibetans are confined to their homes as the Chinese police fire on anyone who ventures outside in the streets,” another local source said.
Meanwhile, reports conflict about how many people were killed in yesterday’s shooting, though Xinhua has acknowledged one death. From AP:
The official Xinhua News Agency cited a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying Tuesday that one Tibetan was killed and four others injured during Monday’s clash in Luhuo county in southwest China. Hong Lei says order has been restored in the region and that the authorities will act firmly to fight crime.
Witnesses and activist groups said security forces opened fire on protesters and killed as many as three people after several thousand Tibetans marched to government offices.
The International Campaign for Tibet says that three people were killed and provides background on the causes of the protests:
The escalating crackdown in Drango follows the circulation of leaflets in the area saying that Tibetans should not celebrate the New Year in 2012 because of the self-immolations, and declaring an intention by the unnamed author of the leaflets to set fire to themselves at the time of Tibetan New Year (Losar, which falls on February 22).
[...] Tibetans gathered in Drango (Chinese: Luhuo) county town in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, at around 12 noon-2 pm today (January 23) following a buildup of tensions in the area. According to Tibetan exile sources in contact with Tibetans in the area, the local authorities tightened control in the area after the dissemination of leaflets. Although full details of circumstances leading up to the protest are not known, several sources said that police had adopted harsh measures to counter the impact of the leaflets, and that this has led to people from the three main nomadic areas of Drango gathering in the town. Tibetans shouted slogans calling for freedom and saying that they could not live under Chinese rule in Tibet.
[...] According to the same sources, when news spread of the protest, Tibetans began to converge upon Drango from different areas including Serthar and Lithang (Chinese: Litang), also in Kardze. There are serious fears of further escalation and military buildup, and concerns for the safety of monks at Drango monastery (the name means literally ‘head of the rock’). Drango is one of the most important and largest monasteries in Kham, situated on a mountain slope at the confluence of two rivers, around 25 kilometers from Kardze town.
Kathleen McLaughlin of Global Post comments on how difficult it is for foreign correspondents to get accurate information about such incidents in Tibetan regions:
And herein lies the crucial problem with reporting on Tibet and getting accruate information. Chinese journalists are constrained by censorship and state-owned media rules. Foreign correspondents require special permits to enter Tibet proper. In cases like this reported violence in a Tibetan area of Sichuan province, journalists are certain to be barred, detained and turned away from reporting on the scene. So how does one verify the facts of what happened in what was certainly a violent outburst in Tibetan parts of Sichuan province?
Many rely on Tibetan groups based outside of China and what contacts they can collect from within the country. China then puts forth its own version of the story. But most often happens, the real truth of events remains clouded in shadows, without independent verification.